At Work With a Professional Tennis Photographer

Tennis is an internationally popular sport, played and watched all over the world.  Given that it is generally played by only two to four people, it yields excellent opportunities for intense, dramatic photography— images which are both compelling to look at, and vital for the promotion of the sport and its players:

Clive Brunskill, one of the sport’s top photographers, knows that the photographers on the tennis court can be just as competitive as the players. “The photographers want to get the best photograph,” he says. “We’re friends off the court, but on the court, everybody wants the picture.”

Speed, alertness, and depth of understanding of the sport are all key for success as a tennis photographer. Brunskill says that with experience comes the ability to see camera-worthy moments before they happen. As in any genre of photography, timing is paramount.

An action shot of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by Brunskill.

An action shot of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by Brunskill.

Brunskill, the child of avid tennis players, developed an interest in photography at the age of 13.  He began working with an agency right out of college, and has now been a successful tennis photographer for 30 years, having won three International Tennis Photographer of the Year awards.

Though Brunskill thrives in the fierce environment of the tennis court, he says his relationships with players off the court are just as important.  He has worked on studio shoots with the game’s top players, such as Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, many of whom have grown to consider him a friend.

Brunskill at work in a typical studio shoot.

Brunskill at work in a typical studio shoot.

“One of the key factors, apart from Clive knowing the business, is that he understands tennis,” says Serbian tennis star Janko Tipsarevic.  Djokovic adds, “He contributes a lot to the sport, and makes us enjoy the photo shoots.”

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One response to “At Work With a Professional Tennis Photographer”

  1. It is very important to know your sport. I’ve photographed professional hockey and US Open Tennis and being able to understand the game and anticipate the movement of players makes a huge difference. The key to a good sports photograph is expression. I loved photographing Murat Safin, former ATP player because he was emotional whether losing or winning the point.

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